Behind Rebel Lines Discussion Questions

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

Middle school students will have their passion for the Civil War ignited by the true story of Emma Edmonds in ''Behind Rebel Lines'' by Seymour Reit. Use this discussion guide to help students think critically about the plot of the book.

''Behind Rebel Lines'' by Seymour Reit

After the Civil War began, Emma Edmonds quickly realized that her personality did not lend to sitting idly by as the country waged war. However, as a woman, she knew that society would not allow her to serve in the capacity she felt called for. She disguised herself as a man and served in the American Civil War as a Union soldier and spy from 1861 until 1865. The discussion questions in this guide are broken into sections based on plot, themes, and application. Use these questions after students have finished reading the book to ensure they have an understanding of key events and help them connect Edmond's story to the greater Civil War narrative.

Questions on Plot

  • Why do you think the author spends so much time explaining that the novel is true and justifying how he found his facts?
  • As a child, there is no doubt that Emma's father wished she were a boy. What do you think her dad would say if he found out that she disguised herself as a man and joined the army?
  • Emma is inspired to become a spy while attending the funeral of another spy. Typically the threat of death by execution would turn someone away from a profession, not inspire them to join. Why do you think the opposite is true for Emma?
  • Of the different personalities Emma uses during her time as a spy, which stands out to you the most? Why?
  • There are many high and low points during the novel. Which high point stood out to you the most? What about the low point that stood out the most?

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